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San Francisco population swells to more than 884,000

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Early census figures mark surge of more than 8,000

San Francisco at night seen from Bernal Hill with the Sutro Tower in the back. Jack French

The United States Census Bureau recently released 2017 population estimates for U.S. counties and metro areas. The results—San Francisco’s population creeps ever upward, albeit by a lesser degree than the city is used to over the past decade.

As of July 2017, San Francisco’s estimated population was 884,363 people, up from 876,103 the same time the previous year.

Note that this is a discrepancy from the figures reported in the American Community Survey in September, which recorded a 2016 estimate of just 870,877.

In the new figures, 2015-2016 yielded a spike of just under 10,000 new San Franciscans, roughly the same growth the San Francisco Planning Department estimates as the city’s yearly average (although still notably lower than many years this decade).

On the other hand, 2016-2017 looks to be a small dip year, as the spike of just 8,260 people is now itself a bit less than early projections. But these are, after all, only estimates.

Here’s a breakdown of how the city has grown since the last full census in 2010, with SF’s official population of 805,770 at the time:

  • 2011: +10,524 (816,294)
  • 2012: +14,112 (830,406)
  • 2013: +10,486 (841,270)
  • 2014: +11,988 (853,258)
  • 2015: +13,062 (866,320)
  • 2016: +9,783 (876,103)
  • 2017: +8,260 (884,363)

The average annual gain since 2010 came to 11,173 persons, and the median is 10,824. The overall population increase of 78,593 amounts to an estimated spike of more than 9.75 percent overall, although between 2016 and 2017 it was just 0.94 percent.

For comparison, that’s a higher year-over-year increase than seven of the ten most populous counties in the country, including number-one ranked Los Angeles County (up 0.1 percent since 2016), Orange County (0.4 percent), and San Diego County (0.6 percent).

It’s also more than Alameda County (up some 9,954 people year over year, about 0.6 percent), San Mateo County (up just 1,849 persons, about 0.2 percent year over year), and Santa Clara County (up by 6,578, more than 0.3 percent).

Plenty of counties nationwide blow away San Francisco’s climb in terms of growth percentage. But keep in mind that places like number-one ranked Falls Church County, VA, while up an incredible 5.2 percent year over year, had fewer than 14,000 people to start with, so a little goes a long way.

A night photo of the SF skyline. Photo by Dllu/Wikicommons

On the other hand, many growing counties saw straight population increases that swamp San Francisco’s in terms of the sheer number of people, like Maricopa County, Arizona, which grew by an alarming 73,650 persons. But Maricopa County is also roughly 195 times the size of San Francisco in terms of square mileage.

SF’s rate of 175 persons per square mile (assuming as square mileage of about 47, a figure which itself is forever in dispute) beat out all of the ten largest gaining counties in the US, the highest of which was Tarrant County, Texas, which gained 36 persons per square mile since 2016.